How to Reduce Divorce Filing Fees in Cook County

In some states, like California and New York, the fee charged to file a new divorce case is the same statewide. In other states, the fee varies—sometimes quite a bit—from county to county. As you might expect, the more populous the county, the higher the filing fee. In Illinois, where divorce filing fees usually range from $210.00 to $320.00 depending on the county, Cook County has the highest filing fee.

Divorce Filing Fees in Cook County

When you file for divorce in Cook County, the Circuit Court Clerk's office charges a $388.00 filing fee. As the party filing for divorce, the Petitioner pays that fee. If your divorce is uncontested, and you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all issues, you can file a Marital Settlement Agreement. To file a Settlement Agreement, the Respondent is also required to file a form called an Appearance and pay an appearance fee of $251.00. The two fees should really be viewed as one single fee of $639.00 paid at the time of e-filing because when you file the Marital Settlement Agreement with the Respondent's Appearance at the same time as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the appearance fee will be added to the filing fee, reqiring the Petitioner to then pay both fees when the case is first e-filed. Petitioner would then need to seek reimbursement of the appearance fee since it should actually be paid by the Respondent.

A Cheaper Way to Divorce

If instead, you and your spouse have agreed on all matters, but the two of you don't need a written Marital Settlement Agreement, the Respondent does not need to file an Appearance, and he or she should not be charged $237.00 appearance fee. That being said, since the Respondent won't be filing an Appearance, the Petitioner must have the Petition for Dissolution formally served on the Respondent by either the Sheriff's office in the county where the Respondent lives or by a private commercial process server. If the Respondent lives in Cook County, the Sheriff will charge $60.00 for the service fee. In other counties, or with a private process server, fees will vary. This fee is paid by the Petitioner as the party requesting service. After service is complete, the server will file an Affidavit of Service to prove to the Court that the Respondent was properly served. If the Respondent doesn't file any documents in the case, after 30 days he or she is in default. Note: Divorce by default is not allowed when the Respondent is active-duty military because of protections granted to servicemembers under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.